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by warmscanny

Contributed by 
warmscanny
People in story: 
Joan Howat and family
Location of story: 
Birkenhead
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3945792
Contributed on: 
25 April 2005

This story was submitted to the Peoples War site by……………………

This is an account of an air raid over Birkenhead and the surrounding area. It took place on March 12th 1941 and even though there had been many air raids up to that date, the March raids were particularly devastating with much loss of civilian life.

My 16 year old sister wrote this minute by minute account whilst crouching under the stairs, along with the rest of my family, because the brick built air raid shelter we had been provided with was intended for three people and there was five of us. So under the stairs we went every night complete with the cat.

Time: 8:30pm

The sirens have already gone off.

“2 incendiary’s on Rovers ground and one at Singleton Avenue. Dad and Roy saw 4 bombs go over and explode, machine guns firing. Very heavy AA barrage indeed. We went under the stairs about 9:15pm. Mobile gun firing very heavily from 9:30 onwards.
Lots of planes over in droves, lots of bombs dropped.
Two awful big bombs dropped terribly near. Am writing this in darkness (the light has come on again).
Dad went out and says a big glow is in Ben Nevis Road. Dad says two Wardens were running past, they said, “thought that one was for us”. They looked as if they had just picked themselves up. Dad hadn’t long come in when four bombs fell terribly close, I thought they were for us. By the way when the Nevis Road one went off our light almost went out twice and the whole house shook.
Dad heard the Wardens’ whistles going and had to go out, an incendiary was outside Temple Road School and another at the end of our road. While Dad had the door open the machine gun fire was like thunder. It has been going on for a long time now and is still going strong though not as bad as when the door was open.
More bombs dropped. Lots of planes, a whopper dropped. I really thought we were hit. Everything just seemed to erupt round us and the light went very dim.
Dad went out and asked two people where it had fallen, and one of them said he thought just at the back, but Daddy couldn’t see anything. Lots of machinegun fire.
Time is now 9:50 by Dad’s watch. When Dad went out before, he said that there were lots of fires in the town and quite a few round by us.
Three big whoppers have just fallen altogether very close.
Lots of machinegun fire. That door upstairs keeps jerking every time a gun fires. Jerry plane over, sounds as if one of ours is chasing it. Yippee! I hope we catch it. There goes that dashed mobile gun again. It gave us the fright of our lives.

THE LIGHT HAS GONE OUT, I AM WRITING IN THE DARK, THERE WAS NO EXPLOSION.

We have a small lamp burning now but it doesn’t give much light. Another couple of bombs very close. They made a terrific row. More machine guns, they sound like thunder. Three bombs fallen awfully near. There is a lull now.

Wow! Six delayed action bombs one after the other, I don’t think 3 seconds passed from the first whistle to the end of the sixth whistle.

There is another lull now and daddy’s gone to see if any windows are broken. He just called mammy upstairs, I wonder what’s happened?

Gosh! They’ve come down now and they say that the frame has been blown at the bottom. But the funny thing is that the glass is not broken. The dining room window is almost as bad.

Dad went out at the front and can see two fires. Time is 2 o’clock. We’ve been out to see the fires and they seem to be down the town. They are awfully big.

We are back under the stairs now and Dad has been heating his dinner which is only 9 hours too late

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